Volume 9, Issue 4 (April 2012)
Easiest Routes and Slow Zones: How Fast Do I Go?: Speeds and Distances of Recreational and Expert Snowsport Participants
High speeds in snowsports have been associated with both the affective appeal as well as the risk of injury. Previous research of speeds of snowsport participants have been recorded on limited terrain or a single run using static radar guns or speed cameras. However, from a resort design and management perspective, more information is needed about areas of potential risk where there are a variety of users, skill levels, and speed. This exploratory research seeks to understand the actual and perceived distance and speeds traveled by a variety of snowsport participants over their day’s participation as well in resort-designated “slow zones.” A convenience sample of expert and recreational participants was recruited in a Western Canadian resort during the 2010–2011 season. A GPS-based data-logging device recorded speed, distance, duration, and location. Participants completed a questionnaire covering demographics, perceptions of maximum speed and distance traveled, and recommended speeds in slow zones. Data was collected over 102 sessions for alpine skiers, snowboarders, and telemarkers who traveled >4.5 km during their data-collection period: age range 9–80 years (x¯ = 42.0), 39.8 % females and 67.6 % advanced/expert. Total skiing/boarding time logged was 497 h (17 min–7 h, 38 min, x¯ = 4 h, 52 min) covering 4475 km (x¯ = 43.87 km). Estimates of distance traveled was 3–100 km (x¯ = 33.70 km, SD = 21.98 km). Maximum speeds recorded were 20.2–108.5 km/h (x¯ = 62.06 km/h); all but two recorded maximum speeds >23 km/h. Estimated maximum speeds ranged from 1–100 km/h (x¯ = 50.82 km/h). A paired sample t-test of estimated and actual maximum speeds was significant (p = .000). Participants’ recommendation for speeds in slow zones ranged from 5 to 60 km/h (x¯ = 23.8 km/h, mode = 30 km/h). Participants were generally unaware of the distances they traveled and the maximum speeds achieved, with most traveling in slow zones at speeds greater than their own recommendations.